I’m still learning how to play the recorder, and I’ve practiced daily. I’ve improved, but have been spending more time than I had hoped on learning how to play a (high) “D”. When the student music book devotes multiple pages to the note, it’s a clue about how difficult it may be to play competently.
First, some context: learning B, A, and G was easy – a good confidence-builder. C was next, and tougher than the previous three (I kept wanting to leave my index finger down, resulting in an A instead of a C), but I learned it in a couple of sessions and moved on. “D”, however, must be for damn it or dreadful, perhaps, because of how easy it is to mess it up.
My friend, D, is played by, essentially, playing a C but uncovering the thumb hole. Sounds easy, right? Nope. Having learned – and liking – C, my thumb simply refused to lift from the thumb hole when it was supposed to and insisted on remaining C instead of becoming D. Curse you, D!
Well, I’ll not be defeated by a recalcitrant D. This note sucked up multiple practice sessions, forcing me to repeatedly play short practice tunes (some of which, strangely, resemble well-known songs but were ever-so-slightly different)…and Hot Cross Buns. Boring! Nonetheless, I practiced and practiced Go Tell Aunt Rhody, Jingle Bells, Good King Wenceslas, making numerous (frustrating) errors. D to G? What sadist came up with that?
Despite the trials and tribulations, sometimes, music floated upward from my instrument. I could imagine playing much more technically challenging pieces in the future, chuckling to myself about what a pain learning the notes for the first time was. In those moments, I created something fine and joyful, and that keeps me going, even when a practice session may not be the hoped-for triumph.
As for practice, some days are better than others…but any amount of practice is better than none. And, often, even if practice isn’t going smoothly, the very act of practicing is helping my fingers know where to go, even without my conscious direction. This is particularly helpful if I momentarily lose my place in a piece: after a split second of panic, there’s a second of panic, the fingers just keep going, and, soon, I’ve found my place again…and no one but me knows I briefly strayed.
I suspect that truly mastering D will take some time – maybe a long time. Until then, I’ll keep practicing, celebrating the “good” sessions (like today’s) and knowing “bad” sessions will happen but choosing to believe that they’re anomalous and unworthy of too much time spent dwelling on them. Music is happening!